Monday, December 24, 2018

I Like Beer

i like beer
I was surprised to feel like I had to take notes recently while watching a show about beer. I've seen promotional material while touring breweries, and I've seen educational shows that mention the drink, but this program focused on beer as being vital to all kinds of important changes in the history of mankind. While I'm sure it was a slightly biased program that was trying to argue a point, the arguments seemed legitimate enough for me to go buy a four-pack of some beer from my hometown of Milwaukee. If you want to amaze your friends at your next party, watch the full documentary or check out my notes below.

Barley was domesticated for beer around 3,000 years before bread, so the agricultural revolution was a result of the need for barley for beer, not bread. Proven by old containers that have been tested positive for beer. It was probably discovered by by accident, but once someone tried it, people decided to repeat the mistake over and over. Did you hear that? The single most important change in the way humans live was a result of the need for produce beer.

Plow. Irrigation. Wheeled carts. Math and measurement in land surveys. Bookkeeping. Writing? Needed to record sales, and 160 words relating to beer in Cuneiform. You could say the show took it too far without real proof here, besides the number of words for beer. The connection was made from it being an important commodity to its production needing the other developments. I think you could safely assume that even if beer started the agricultural revolution, other crops were probably being grown at some point early on, and these other developments were meant to help these other crops, too.

Egypt - everyone could drink it, seen as gift of gods. Daily payment for pyramid workers was in beer (a gallon of beer per day). 231 million gallons to build Great Pyramid. School kids drank it for breakfast. Only 3% alcohol, but nutritious. So kids got a little buzz before school and it was fairly important as an everyday drink.

Even medicine. Tetracycline was found in mummies. It's an antibiotic discovered in 1948. No one could figure out what was in the diet of ancient Egyptians that would have left this antibiotic in the bodies. Researchers brewed beer with original recipe, and there it was. I assume everyone in Ancient Egypt had clear complexions, since Tetracycline is what my doctor gave me to help clear my acne up. Without knowing it, ancient Egyptians were treating themselves for
Acne and other skin infections; respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia; genital and urinary infections; and Helicobacter pylori (the bacteria that can lead to stomach ulcers). It's also sometimes used for treating Lyme disease and for preventing anthrax infections.

Middle Ages in Europe. 50% of living to age 6. Water was unclean from pollution. Beer removed microorganisms and bacteria. Researchers stuck pond water in 1,000 year old malt recipe makes it safe to drink. E Coli all gone. Can you imagine taking water from your local retention pond, letting it sit for a week, and then safely drinking it? Forget pasteurization, cold filtering, and whatever else. Just let the brewing process kill off what would kill you. (That's not a recipe.)

Europeans in Middle Ages drank six times more than today. Monks made beer and then gave out a beer afterwards, but church also got very wealthy because of brewing of beer. And you thought all the wealth was built from donations in church.

Trade, commerce, banking, finance --> capitalism. All part of beer's impact when entrepreneurs started brewing beer. Then it came to America. It stayed fresh on the Mayflower. Water would have gone bad. When they ran out of beer, landed on Plymouth Rock, then kept making beer (afraid of water). Water was fine in America until European settlers polluted it, but they didn't know that. Pilgrims made acorn beer and later Samuel Adams Boston Lager, I guess.

Beer led to taverns, which were centers of commerce and communication. And led to the American Revolution, emerging from Green Dragon Tavern in Boston. Some bad ideas come from too much beer. Some good. I had seen the alcohol bill of sale for when the Founding Fathers were working on the Declaration of Independence.
- 54 bottles of Madeira wine. - 60 bottles of claret. - 22 bottles of porter. - 12 bottles of beer. - 8 bottles of cider and 7 large bowls of punch (both of which were probably alcoholic). 
As you can see from this, it's a bit of a stretch to say all Americans were drinking beer like fish. In fact, there were 55 people involved in the above bill (besides any womenfolk who might have been commandeered) so it looks like everyone got a bottle of wine. Except one guy, maybe, who decided to get a twelver of beer.

National Anthem from drinking song. Back then, it was a sobriety test, and if you could sing it, you could get another beer. Yes, we've probably heard this before, but the evidence is falling off a bit that beer continues to be the only way for Colonists and newly-branded Americans to get wasted.

Beer led medical science, too. Louis Pasteur was studying beer, not milk. Beer was first drink to be pasteurized. Discovered bacteria. Germ theory = modern medicine. Studying beer led to finding causes for sickness in humans. Wash your hands. Interesting here is that Pasteur was studying skunky beer and why it goes bad, not the other hard liquors that probably don't go bad as often. Sure, he could have been studying why escargots rot or why fountain water smells bad, but he chose beer and we got germs.

Brewing industry invented refrigeration, so that's why you can keep all your food cold. Lagers needed to be cold. Miller was in Milwaukee, and it could be brewed all winter, but refrigeration would make it possible to make the beer all year. It also makes it possible to live in Florida, since AC is derived from this original invention. It's a cool connection to beer, but it's also obvious that other industries would have come up with refrigeration to replace ice houses eventually. The beer industry had the money to research the solution, so give credit to Capitalism on this one. As a side note, I can remember stories of ice harvest boats fighting each other on the Milwaukee River, though I can't find images of the occurrence, so maybe I'm not remembering all the details. Point is that the invention of refrigeration led to not needing to harvest ice in order to have ice tea in the South in the summertime, and beer played a role in that invention.

Henry Ford didn't invent automated production line. Beer did. Automated beer production line that made beer bottles and eliminated child labor a decade before Fords were made in a factory. Because the industry had a desire to be more efficient, the factories were automated in a way that would affect other industry for the rest of time. Again, this would have come about somewhere later on, but the wealthy beer industry was able to invest in the upgrades.

I love history that can be connected through time rather than just memorizing dates, and this TV program about beer made logical connections throughout all of recorded history that seems to show the importance of beer. My kids asked why beer isn't in the Bible if it's so important. I figured early beer might not have been kosher, but Martin Luther and Ben Franklin both approved of it, so I'm not too worried. Actually, when I looked it up, it seems that some current translations add beer into the good book, as in Proverbs 20:1
Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler
However, many versions of the Bible call it "strong drink" or "alcohol." Based on the fact that hard liquor is much newer than wine or beer, strong drink probably is a potent version of wine or beer. Actually, I just looked that up on Wikipedia, and that's probably the case. So it was like craft beer. That said, low-alcohol beer isn't really mentioned in the Bible, so drink all the Lite beer you want.

I don't know if beer is as important as the documentary I watched tried to portray, but it's also not as dangerous as hard liquor. Plus, wine and beer both have been around for thousands of years, so it's kind of cool to think you could be drinking a wine similar to what Jesus might have had or shotgun a beer just like Cleopatra might have.